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. Plexiglas partition for youngest students not wearing face masks
Joshua Cowell School kindergarten teacher Amanda Jacobsen displays one of the Plexiglas partitions in her classroom.

Monday had the feel of a first day of school.

In actuality, classes at Manteca Unified kicked off in August via distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This day was saved for in-person learning for youngsters in transition kindergarten through third grade.

“We did meet for one-on-one (with students) prior to the start of the school year,” said Joshua Cowell Elementary School kindergarten teacher Amanda Jacobsen.

She and her fellow teachers throughout MUSD prepared for the return to the classroom, taking numerous safety precautions for students in recent weeks.

“We’ve all been working tirelessly,” said Jacobsen, who is in her sixth year as a teacher. “We have all the confidence (in MUSD) that this will all work out.”

One such precaution are the lightweight portable Plexiglas partitions available to students without facemasks – those in third grade or younger are not required yet strongly encouraged to such masks during these unprecedented times, Jacobsen said.

Attendance at MUSD TK-3 is limited to 12 students per class on an AM – or mornings – and PM shifts with youngsters being properly spaced out throughout the room.

At Joshua Cowell, Jacobsen’s kindergarten classes were split with 13 students in AM session and nine in the PM group.

Students had individual learning bins at their desk. Only the teacher and that youngster had access to the material in the bins. Jacobsen said a student folder was available for parents to see the work of their child.

Her first-day back assignment was for students to draw a picture of themselves, expressing their feelings. Photos were also taken of each youngster for their personal memory book.

Recesses were limited to 10 minutes per class, doing rotating activities while maintaining social distancing. Each had their own Hula Hoop and basketball, for example. “They still had a chance to go outside and enjoy a break in their day,” said Jacobsen.

Her AM session dismissed at 10:50 a.m. The school’s maintenance staff took over from there, sanitizing the classroom in preparation for the PM class.

“We were excited to finally have students back in the classroom,” Jacobson added.

Families not comfortable with the in-person learning format had the option of enrolling their youngster in the MUSD On-line Academy or independent studies.

In-person learning for MUSD’s fourth through eighth graders is scheduled for Nov. 16.